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Trinity hires alumnus Rogel as coach

NATCHEZ — Trinity Episcopal Day School announced Wednesday the hiring of Mississippi College safeties coach Zach Rogel as its new head football coach and athletic director.

The hiring was announced on the school’s Facebook page in a message from school board chairman Will Devening.

Rogel, a 2005 graduate of Trinity who played quarterback for the Saints, replaces Josh Loy, who was let go early this week after coaching the Saints for two seasons.

“This means the world to me,” Rogel said. “Trinity is where I decided I wanted to be a coach, because it did so much for me.”

Rogel said he and Trinity headmaster Les Hegwood had gotten to know each other for several months prior to the hire.

“He reached out to me early in both of our seasons, not dealing with a job offer, but because I was an alumni and possible future assistant,” Rogel said. “He just wanted to make contact.”

After the Saints won the MAIS Class A state championship Saturday — which Rogel attended — he said Hegwood then approached him about coaching the Saints.

“On Sunday, I got the call,” Rogel said. “It was a difficult choice, because MC was a good spot for me. If it was anywhere but Trinity, I probably would have declined.”

Rogel coached safeties for the Choctaws this past season and was offensive coordinator at Marshall Academy in 2012. In 2011, Rogel coached the junior varsity football team and was a skill positions coach for the varsity football team at Copiah Academy. He was a wide receiver at Mississippi College from 2005-2007.

“I learned something from everyone I came in contact with, beginning with David King,” Rogel said of his former high school coach. “He had an impact on my life, and it’s my goal to have an impact on kids’ lives like he did mine.”

With several different coaching stops, Rogel said he’s gained valuable knowledge on how to carry himself as a head coach.

“I ask myself how I would do things and put this in the good idea box and that in the bad idea box,” Rogel said. “You develop your own philosophy, but you learn something from everyone you come across.”

In King’s case, Rogel said he and his former head coach still keep in touch with each other eight years after graduating from Trinity.

“I think that’s rare these days,” Rogel said. “That’s something I respect. What he says, he means, and he’s been a great role model to me. He didn’t have to say things twice, and kids can see through it if it’s just talk. With Coach King, it’s real. It’s not about him, it’s about the kids.”

Rogel said he’s aware the roster numbers will be low, with Trinity graduating 12 seniors off its 22-man roster this season. But Rogel said he’s not intimidated by the thought of having reduced numbers.

“It’s Single-A football,” Rogel said. “We’re going to get a team together and come out and compete every week. I’m not concerned about it in a negative way. I have a feeling guys will want to play for this program, and I think our numbers will be just fine. We have some good, young talent, and the sixth grade class will be huge. It’s all about developing the future.”

Trinity’s recent state title was the sixth one for football in the school’s history. Rogel insisted, though, he isn’t intimidated taking over a program that just won a championship.

“That team did something great, something that will go down in the history books,” Rogel said. “But I can’t afford to even have a mindset like that, because it would take away from my job. I’m being hired to do a certain thing and do it to the best of my ability.”

Whether Rogel will plan to retain offensive line coach Larry Calcote and defensive coordinator Hunter Ogden remains to be seen, Rogel said.

“That hasn’t even been discussed or even thought about,” Rogel said. “That’s down the road. The main thing is getting there and addressing the parents, students and staff and letting them know how excited I am.”

Rogel’s official start date at Trinity is Jan. 3, but the school announced he would be on campus at 6 p.m. Dec. 5 in the school’s gymnasium to meet with parents and athletes of all sports. He will teach two physical educations classes and a study hall in the spring semester.

Hegwood and Devening didn’t return messages seeking comment.